In this lesson, students will explore several primary sources addressing the treatment of people with mental illness at Blackwell Island in New York in the mid to late 1800s. After analyzing the sources, students will discuss our responsibility and the responsibility of government to people with mental illness and cognitive disability. Period film, photographs, maps, and a written account by pioneering investigative journalist Nellie Bly animate the lesson. There are detailed instructions for the teacher, a Universal Design for Learning chart, and two versions of each reading to accommodate different needs within the class. Download PDF.
1860 – 1900